Suicide, melancholia, and manic defense in Byron's Manfred

Lansdown, Richard (2021) Suicide, melancholia, and manic defense in Byron's Manfred. Nineteenth-Century Literature, 76 (1). pp. 1-32.

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Abstract

This essay presents a literary-critical account of Lord Byron’s verse drama Manfred (1817) from the perspective of Freudian and Object Relations psychological theories, in particular as regards the distinction between melancholia and mourning and the presence of part-objects within the psyche. It argues that whereas it is important to preserve a distinction between the poet and his works, such a distinction can never be total: like Childe Harold, Manfred is clearly in part a personal projection, given Byron’s state of mind at the time of composition. To provide context for these discussions the essay surveys both Byron’s personal views concerning suicide and the history of self-slaughter in Western culture, with Romanticism as a particular focus. The poet’s attitudes were many and various, depending on which cases he had in mind. Furthermore, the Romantic tradition initiated by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774) and continued by Byron’s numerous treatments of suicide mark a complication of the attitudes we find voiced by Enlightenment philosophers and, indeed, by Sigmund Freud himself.

Item ID: 71564
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0891-9356
Keywords: Byron; Manfred; suicide
Copyright Information: © 2021 by The Regents of the University of California
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2022 00:49
FoR Codes: 47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4705 Literary studies > 470504 British and Irish literature @ 100%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280116 Expanding knowledge in language, communication and culture @ 100%
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